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Monday, March 6, 2017


A few more chiton pictures for you:

Veiled Chiton (Placiphorella velata) note the pink and white striped girdle surrounding the narrow plates — effective coloration for blending in with coralline algae.

And here's another Veiled Chiton living on the bottom of an abandoned urchin pit.  This chiton is a little harder to see — it's very well camouflaged with tiny tube worms and dark algae growing on its plates.  (To find it, look for the pink and white striped girdle.)

I first wrote about Veiled Chitons on 21 August 2012.  To learn more about these remarkable carnivorous chitons (they trap amphipods!), review the post called "A veiled threat" here

And it was fun for us to see this chiton:

A juvenile Gumboot Chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri).  This individual was only ~8 cm (~3 inches) long.  Although I have shown pictures of adult Gumboot Chitons and much smaller juveniles (~1 cm long, and ~2 cm long), we haven't seen many of this size.  We were impressed with how flattened they appeared — but note that you can still see the eight hidden plates lined up along the center of the chiton (allowing you to identify this as a chiton, rather than part of the rock).

All photographs are from northern Sonoma County on 24 February 2017.


Hollis said...

Hi Jackie! Thanks for posting these photos of often overlooked chitons which are truly beautiful when closely examined. Classrooms visiting the tide pools were always enthralled with the big gumboots and tho' so common at one time, they disappeared with the red tide in the fall of 2011. Any sign of a return along our section of coast?

Jackie Sones said...

Hi, Hollis,

Well, that's a good question. We have seen Cryptochitons at a few different sites recently, but I don't think I've heard from anyone who has been monitoring Cryptochitons at sites where there was a known decline. This spring/summer might be a good time to look. Keep in mind the possibility that individual Cryptochitons could be younger and smaller, and therefore harder to see than the full-sized adults. (I'm not sure how fast they grow?)

Another anectdotal observation -- we often see Cryptochitons washed up on beaches after big storms in the fall/winter. During the past couple of years, I've seen them washing up -- evidence that they're around, just living in deeper water.